Telenet Super Prestige Cyclocross Cup

Belgian style CX

Photo story by Andreas Mikkel Hansen

 

Sandpits & run-ups 

The Telenet Super Prestige Cyclocross Cup is a Belgian specialty. About an hour of flat out racing – cyclocross style, which means that you might run into sandpits, stairs, run-ups or barriers as you navigate the 2-3 km. long course. Cyclocross is honest racing. There are no radios or DS in the car behind, yelling orders. No team tactics (not many anyway) and no drafting or bunch-riding to the finish. This is mano-a-mano, flat out, 60 minutes of racing.

 

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Warm-up

Cyclocross venues are often put up in the outskirts of smaller rural towns in Belgium and Holland. If you show up early, you might get a chance of seeing the elite riders as they do their warm-up routines and test ride the course.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

In town for a win

These images are from the Super Prestige in Boom, Belgium. Reigning World Champion Wout Van Aert was in town looking for his first win of the season, after placing second and third after dutch riders Mathieu van der Poel and Lars van der Haar, in every important race so far this season.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

But, before the guys go to battle it’s time for the Superprestige Ladies Trophy to get underway. This year, reigning world champion Sanne Cant is struggling to beat young Dutch rider Maud Kaptheijns.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Maud Kaptheijns

This race wasn’t any different, as Maud sprinted to yet another victory in front of the world champion.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

At three o’clock it’s time for the young guns of the Elite men’s race to get focused on the job at hand.
The riders are called up to the start line according to their standings in the UCI points ranking

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

60 sec. to the gun

Tension starts to build as we approach the start. 

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

A cyclocross race is usually an 8 or 9 lap race around a given course. This gives the fans several chances to see the riders though-out the race. The venues are often compact, which gives the spectators even more chances to see the race unfold. Big TV-screens and the event speaker make sure no one misses out on the action.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

The barriers, even though they are 40cm high, can usually be “bunny-hopped” by the skilled Cyclocross rider. Kevin Pauwels in the blue kit is doing it old school and dismounts each lap.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Beer

Belgians like their racing with a fair amount of “frites” close by – and beer.
Which you will notice if you look closer at the people cheering Van Aert on, as he passes them for the fifth or six time.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Stairs and Steep run-ups are a classic ingredient in a cyclocross race.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Three laps to go and it’s GO time for Laurens Sweeck as he puts the hammer down, trying to catch race leader Wout Van Aert, who managed to put some daylight between him and the rest of the bunch, early in the race.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Dutch rider Lars van Der Haar is charging up through the ranks, after a somewhat slow start.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Dutch rider and fan favorite Mathieu van der Pool, or just “MvdP”, suffers from an early crash, after misjudging a corner, and is now struggling to get back to the front of the race. A “mechanical”, or malfunction with his bike, would later put him out of contention for the win.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

MvdP is cheered on by fans along the course, even though he is from the Netherlands and we’re in Belgium. He raced on to a solid fourth place, after being almost a minute and a half behind the leaders, halfway through the race.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

This Saturday in Boom, no one could catch the World Champion Wout Van Aert. Van Aert took his first win of the season and was relieved after the race. In all fairness, it must be mentioned that MvdP took himself out of contention for the win, with a bit of bad luck and a crash early in the race.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Belgian rider Laurens Sweeck took second place.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Dutch rider Lars van der Haar, from the mighty “Team Fidea Lions” – managed by the living legend Sven Nys – took the third and final spot on the podium.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Disc

The fastest bikes of this race, sleek designs –  and not a canti-brake in sight. They left the Elite races with the likes of Sven Nys and Zdenek Stybar.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

Next stop: The podium.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen
Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

The podium in Boom. The third round of the Telenet Super Prestige cyclocross cup. Laurens Sweeck, Wout Van Aert and Lars van der Haar.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

“Behind every great man, there’s an even greater woman” – Todays #1 and #2 had their better half’s assisting them in the finish area.

The racing continued the next day at the UCI Cyclocross World Cup race in Koksijde 150 km. north of Boom. Giving these Dutch and Belgian Hard-Men about 18 hours of rest, before the next important race.

Photo: Andreas Mikkel Hansen


Story by Andreas Mikkel Hansen
 Photo credits: Andreas Mikkel Hansen

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